Prisuta: Fourth & Goal

Mike Prisuta provides some notes from the Steelers' 38-28 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night.

* With a mere five sacks to their credit through three games and with blown 4th-quarter leads in consecutive weeks as the most recent entries on the resume, the Steelers' formerly No. 1 defense was seemingly under siege.

Then, the Chargers came to town.

Once they got here it became obvious, even to those who had perhaps forgotten.

When the quarterback holds the ball against the Steelers he's going to get flushed and throw it away, he's going to get chased and wind up wasting a play, and he's going to get sacked and fumble it away. Philip Rivers experienced all of those things against the Steelers because he had the audacity to stand in the pocket on Sunday night and try to beat the Steelers deep.

Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer would not. They managed 17 points each against the Steelers. The Chargers' offense got 21.

For a defense that's still minus Troy Polamalu, that's above the line.

* Let's see, a strip/fumble/touchdown on a punt return and a successful onside kick against. Those of you who had been in a panic over the defense may now panic about the special teams.

* You might have disagreed with Mike Tomlin's decisions to kick a field goal from the Bengals' 1-yard line early in the first quarter and to go for it on 4th-and-4 from the Bengals' 35 late in the second quarter. And you might have really disagreed with Tomlin's decision to go for it on 4th-and-inches from the Steelers' 30 leading by just 14-0 in the second quarter against the Chargers. But you have to appreciate a head coach who plays his gut and the game he's coaching rather than the percentages.

There are times when coloring outside the lines can and does prove foolhardy, such as going for two from the 12 in the 2007 Wild Card game. But over the long haul I'll take a coach that plays to win the game more than he does to avoid criticism in the event that he loses it.

So would Herman Edwards.

* Three favorite plays from the San Diego game:

Offense: A Mendenhall run (pick one; my personal choice would be the TD scored running behind The Big Legursky, but just about any Mendenhall carry on Sunday night will do). No one can say he still lacks the "wow" factor now.

Defense: William Gay, all 5-10 of him, defending a fade to Malcolm Floyd, all 6-5 of him, in the third quarter. The Chargers scored two plays later, anyway, but Gay served notice that "Tall Ball" can be dealt with through tenacity and technique.

Special Teams: Stefan Logan being credited with half a tackle of Darren Sproles on a kickoff return in the second quarter that covered 15 yards.

Logan learned a tough lesson on the strip/fumble/touchdown, but he's contributing on both ends of the kicking game.

* The offensive line was outstanding protecting Ben Roethlisberger against San Diego, and has been all season. That's the most significant development of the Steelers' 2-2 start.


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